Clemson held its fourth practice of the preseason in very comfortable weather on Tuesday. It was a two-and-a-half hour practice for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers who are preparing toward the season opener on September 3 against a Troy University team looking for its sixth straight Sun Belt Conference Championship.
The Tigers are still far from their game preparation for the Trojans as the team has not put the full pads on. That comes on Wednesday and Coach Dabo Swinney is excited to see his team, especially his linemen react in that more physical environment.
“To me Wednesday is the first day of practice,” said Swinney. “We can tackle and turn it loose in every area. We will have some highly competitive drills and find out where we are physically, especially in the offensive and defensive lines.
“We have a drill we call the “Paw Drill,” which is also known as the “Oklahoma Drill “where a running back runs the ball in close quarters and the linemen have to man up against each other.”
One of the highlights of practice on Tuesday was the punting of senior Dawson Zimmerman, a semifinalist for Ray Guy Award last year and a preseason Watch List candidate for the honor in 2011.
“He is a weapon. He has really improved since his freshman year and is a great example of why you don’t give up on someone. I think he can be the best punter in this conference and one of the best in the nation. He was booming it 60 yards just about every punt today. He is a mentally tough punter who has the respect of his teammates.”
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch was named to the Hendricks Award preseason Watch List on Tuesday. “Andre is a guy who has gotten better and better every year and we think he will have a big senior year. He is hungry to have a great senior year. He saw the breakout year that Da’Quan Bowers had last year and he knows what it takes. He has worked on being a more disciplined player and with that he can take it to another level.”
The Tigers will practice once on Wednesday and once on Thursday, then hold its first two-a-day practices on Friday with sessions in the morning and early evening. The team will have its first scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday morning.
All practices are closed to the public. The team will have its annual Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, August 21 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM in Clemson Memorial Stadium.
Post practice interviews: